Couples from St Albans, Harpenden and Redbourn take to the dance floor for hospice’s Strictly fundraiser

Florence and Mike Yass

Florence and Mike Yass - Credit: Archant

Strictly speaking, a hospice nurse and her husband from St Albans were still winners despite narrowly missing out on a dance trophy on Saturday.

For although mum-of-three Florence Yass and husband Mike came third in The Hospice of St Francis’ Strictly Learn Dancing final, they wowed the judges with their Paso Doble and Charleston.

They reached the final three and danced in front of a 500-strong audience at Berkhamsted’s Centenary Theatre after just six weeks of training with professional instructors Brian and Shirley Cusworth.

Seventeen couples took part in the charity extravaganza, now in its fifth year, raising over £25,000 between them for the charity, which relies on voluntary donations for 80 per cent of its £4.7m annual running costs to provide free care for people living with life-shortening illnesses and their families across Herts and Bucks.

Nearly 25 per cent of its patients come from St Albans and Harpenden.

Florence, 45, and Mike, 48, from Slowmans Close in Park Street, signed up to give something back to the charity where Florence works after she got her first job back in nursing there following a 10-year career break to bring up their three daughters.

She said: “I feel extremely privileged to work at the hospice – it’s like a dream come true and doing Strictly has been a great opportunity to do something together as a couple and give something back to an incredible charity.

Most Read

“We had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for at the start but it’s been an amazing experience. The most nerve-wracking moment was standing in the wings, waiting to be called on stage but the buzz in the Green Room during the performances was amazing.”

Florence and Mike have raised nearly £2,000 so far, including donations on their just giving page

Other local couples who took part were Redbourn GP Kate Smith and her husband Andrew, John Armstrong from St Albans and his partner Alice Barnes, Carmen McElligott from St Albans and her partner Karen Millen and Nicola Sayers from Harpenden and her partner Mike Williams. Together they have raised over £4,000 for the hospice.

Kate, who signed up after shedding five stone in the last year, said: “I’m a huge fan of the TV show Strictly Come Dancing and this was our only chance to have a go. Poor Andy is a long-suffering Strictly widower for four months of the year and luckily he agreed to do it. “Anyone who saw him dance at our wedding knows he can move – and he didn’t let me down. We had so much fun. We’d recommend it to anyone.”

The competition was won by the hospice’s chaplain, Ray Ashley-Brown and his wife Claudia, from Hemel Hempstead.

Organiser Fran Martin said: “I am so proud of all our couples. They worked really hard, showed total commitment and found the courage and confidence to dance on stage in front of 500 people here tonight. To me, they’re all winners.”